Monday, June 11, 2012

Attention hogs?

I've been hearing, from the children of my children's generation (teenagers), that there seems to be a pervasive feeling among all of them - no one feels as though they are getting enough attention from their parents.

I reflected on this and I realized that this generation of children (1990's born) probably has received more parental attention than generations past. When my firstborn arrived in 1993, we were immediately plunged into baby/parent groups, which was just the seedling of the harvest of parent/child activities that segued into a plethora of kid activities for which parental involvement was a necessity.

We've done soccer, baseball, softball, gymnastics, dance, summer camp, drama, art classes, cheer, music lessons, scouts and Camp Fire. I've spent endless hours driving my kids to and from these activities, as well as being present during the activity or being an active participant. I've rarely missed a game, never missed a recital or performance, been a scout leader, and volunteered to be the backstage mom, the party host, or the organizer.  In short, I've BEEN there for most everything.

But does just BEING there count as attention? I mean, we can get mired in the daily comings and goings without really seeing or hearing our child. Our conversations are sometimes limited to the minutia of everyday life without really going deeper than "what's for dinner?" or "did you finish your homework?" So, are our kids really getting enough attention?

I have a few memories of feeling left out when my parents were focused on my siblings and their crisis of the moment. That continues to adulthood, but I never felt like my parents paid any more or less attention to me than any other parents did at that time. In fact, while my generation's parents were definitely more involved than that of the generation before me, for the most part we did our own thing and our parents served two purposes: 1. to make us food, 2. to drive us places.

So, I wonder how much attention does a kid need? We've created this society of egocentric kids and I can't help but wonder if, when they express their need for more attention, we can EVER give them all the attention they want/need. Add in the fact that most kids are not only children, and it gets harder and harder to have one-on-one time with each child. I find most of the individual time I spend with my kids involves driving them to appointments and picking up Starbucks or a treat after. It might not sound like much, but it works, and we have long talks (often sitting in the car in the driveway long after we've arrived home).

Still, I wonder if kids are just becoming more egocentric, or if we are really not paying enough attention to our offspring. What's your take? Do kids need more attention? Or do they just have a constant need to be in the spotlight?

No comments: